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Toyota accuses fired worker of major security breach

Judge stops contractor from leaving the US

Car maker Toyota has filed a lawsuit against a worker it claims attacked the company's US parts supply website as retribution for being fired.

Alleged bad behaviour by workers and former workers is common but the speed at which events have unfolded in this case is still unusual.

The accused, Indian contract programmer Ibrahimshah Shahulhameed, was reportedly only fired by the company on 23 August, but by this week Toyota had alleged a range of bad behaviour in a suit filed in a Kentucky court.

According to Toyota, after being dismissed Shahulhameed accessed the toyotasupplier.com web portal, sabotaging 13 web applications and interfering with the security certificates in a way that led to a system crash.

The former worker also allegedly downloaded sensitive documents covering pricing, parts and quality testing data which the company was worried might be distributed to third parties, the suit said.

"If this information were disseminated to competitors or otherwise made public, it would be highly damaging to Toyota, and its suppliers, causing immediate and irreparable damage," said Toyota's legal attorney.

[The worker] had no authority to access or use Toyota's property or trade secrets and it is undisputed that he did access it and altered computer programs and codes."

A judge has ordered Shahulhameed not to leave the US while the allegations are being investigated.

At the moment, Toyota's statement is an accusation and nothing more, but workers turning on their former employers is a depressingly well-worn theme.

This includes the former employee who deleted 88 VMware-hosted servers used by a pharmaceutical company, a former admin at fashion firm Gucci charged with rampaging through the systems of his erstwhile employer, and a Baltimore worker who hacked into a PowerPoint presentation given by his former boss, causing it to display a pornographic image.


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